5 trends beneath the surface of Nov. jobs report

By Josh Boak

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 7 2013 1:30 p.m. MST

Even as the number of unemployed Americans has fallen nearly 350,000 in the past two months, the ranks of the long-term unemployed have barely budged. They number about 4.1 million. And they're not catching many breaks. Companies are shying away from hiring workers with extended gaps in their resumes.

More than 37 percent of unemployed Americans in November have been out of work for half a year or more, a higher proportion than in October. If most of these Americans continue to be viewed as unemployable, that trend will hold back the economy's growth.

White House officials and Democrats in Congress argue that such figures illustrate the need for extended unemployment benefits, which are set to expire Dec. 28. The extended benefits program provides 28 extra weeks in most states, paid for by the federal government, on top of the 26 weeks typically available.

If that program lapses, 1.3 million people will immediately lose benefits. An additional 800,000 would do so in the first two months of 2014. The White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill have stepped up their support for extending the extra benefits as part of budget talks.

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